Mesa Verde National Park

Colorado, United States of America

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About Mesa Verde National Park

The desert-like landscape of Mesa Verde National Park is a site of deep archaeological significance. A National Park since 1906 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mesa Verde protects some of the most well-preserved cliff dwellings in the world. Located in Colorado, the park covers an area of 212 km2 (~82 sq mi), with elevations ranging from around 1,800 - 2,613 m (~5,905 - 8,572 ft) above sea level.


The high mesa plateau is divided by steep canyons, created by retreating oceans and waterways. The semi-arid climate does not deter wildlife, of which there is an abundance.  Mountain lions, coyotes, wolves, bears, elks, marmots, skunks, squirrels and porcupines roam the park, although sightings may be sporadic. Mule deer and wild turkey however are easily spotted.

Attractions and Activities

There are five thousand Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites within the park boundaries; villages on the Mesa top and elaborate cave dwellings built between the 6th and 12th centuries. The Pueblo Indians settled at Mesa Verde 1,400 years ago but it is believed prolonged droughts eventually caused them to abandon the area in 1300 AD.

There is much to see and do in the park. Ranger guided tours allow visitors a closer look at the magnificent cave dwellings, including Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde and in North America. The 150-roomed manse was built using sandstone, mortar and wooden beams. Researchers believe the site held social, administrative and ceremonial importance within the Pueblo community.

Designated hiking trails allow visitors to further explore the park and dwellings. The trails are strenuous and rugged, involving steep climbs and descents, with little shade from the sun. Hiking offers spectacular views and a closer look at ancient wall carvings. An archaeological museum provides insight to the settlement’s fascinating history.

Guided Tours
Landscape Photography
Cross-Country Skiing
Wildlife Watching
Colorado, United States of America
Latitude: 37.183955, Longitude: -108.48837